Monterey Bay Aquarium

After going twice in 2016 it’s taken me three years to return to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The kids have gone the past couple years (including an overnight with their grandparents in 2017) but I haven’t. It’s nice to be back and just sit in the Outer Bay gallery or watch the Kelp Forest tank. The main exhibits are the same as always but they’re also my home waters and speak to me.

As comforting as it is to see the same exhibits and animal life I’ve grown up with, I can’t help but wonder how the aquarium’s focus is going to change as sea water temperatures rise and the mix of the bay changes. I love that my kids love this aquarium and I hate that they’re most-likely only going to know about all this stuff as things they saw when they were little before they vanished from the Earth.

Anyway, I got to try out a new phone camera and further figure out how I can try and keep my DSLR from blowing out the blue channel.

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Palo Alto Obon

This year the whole family made it to Palo Alto Obon. We enjoyed the food and got to watch San José Taiko perform on the Yagura. This was the boy’s first time being able to see them play without having to deal with a massive crowd and I think they enjoyed the performance a lot more.

And we danced. It started earlier this year and didn’t last as long* but was still fun. The right amount of community feel and a good time was had by all. The boys have already weighed in that they like Palo Alto’s festival the most and I know what they mean.

*Apparently some one complained last year and in typical Bay Area fashion the town cracked down on the church that has been having these festivals for decades instead of letting the resident know that they’d purchased a home next to a church.

Since I was dancing the photos are similar to my previous ones in San José this year and in Palo Alto last year. I’m still working out how best to take photos during the festival. I might have to stop dancing for a few songs and just take photos of the kids. They’re getting pretty good now.

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MLB Debut

My youngest has caught the baseball bug pretty bad. After taking my eldest to his first game last summer, we’ve had a pretty baseball-heavy start to this season and it became apparent that I’d have to take him to his first Major League game this summer.

We thought briefly about all going up together but it felt right for him to be able to experience it on his own without his big brother being the “expert.” So last week we took the train up the peninsula for a game against the Nationals.

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He was excited verging on nervous. He’s familiar enough with trains that he knows they don’t always run on time. This is mostly New Jersey Transit’s fault but Caltrain hasn’t helped either. We got sit on the top floor of the train and it wasn’t too crowded—mostly other Giants fans—since we’d left before the commute started in earnest. Once we were moving he calmed down a little.

I always enjoy taking the train though since it allows me to actually spend time talking with him. He was excited to realize that he was going to be one of the few people in the park who’d been to the original Polo Grounds location and I duly pointed out where Candlestick had been and where we used to park when I was going to games decades ago. Then as we pulled into Fourth and King I pointed out how he could se the stadium lights from the train.

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He literally skipped all the way from the station to the ballpark.

I asked him if I was walking too fast and he just said “no I’m just excited” and kept on skipping. Loved seeing Willie Mays. Giant eyes as we went through security and got my phone scanned.* And a face that rivaled his excitement at seeing Winnie the Pooh when he saw the World Series trophies. We picked up his “My First Game” certificate** and a program and scorecard*** and then he finally got to see the field.

*Rant about how physical tickets no longer exist goes here.

**Very cool. Not sure how I missed these last year.

***Good lord the $1 Giants scorecard is an afterthought to an afterthought. It’s the same piece of paper that’s stapled into the programs and doesn’t even pretend to be a functional souvenir. 

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He was excited to see that batting practice was going on. The next time we go to a game I suspect that we’ll just find out seats and watch BP but this time it was time to make a circuit of the park before things got too crowded.

So he went down the Coke slide (it was much faster than he expected). Checked out the bobbleheads (I had to lift him up to see the top row). And wandered along the arcade by McCovey Cove where I got to point out the Willie McCovey statue across the water.

It’s great to see the park from multiple angles and get a sense of the field—especially walking along that right field wall which starts off so far away and gets so much closer as you reach the foul line.

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Then we found our seats so we could eat dinner and be ready for starting lineups. I figure that he’ll want a scorecard from this game in the future even though there was too much to keep track of for him to keep score himself.

We were up high in almost the same set of seats I took his brother to last year. Same row just the other end. My favorite place to sit in the ballpark. Up high where you can only be at a Major League game and, in this day and age of defensive shifting, a great perspective on how defenses are being set up.

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The game wasn’t particularly good but we did get to see a fantastic play by Kevin Pillar and caught a beautiful sunset. Unlike his older brother he never had a crisis of faith in feeling like the game was now over. Unfortunately this is because the Giants never felt like they were in it. Even going into the 9th inning when they were down 3–0 it felt like they were down 10–0.

It sucks that he didn’t get to see the Giants even score a run but I was pleased that he still got excited with each hit even though he was increasingly pessimistic that they’d be able to pick up another.

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It was nice just to be up there and enjoy being with him as things went on and hope slipped away. We watched the seagulls come in and the Coke bottle get “brighter.” The stadium was only 75% full so we didn’t feel like we had to run* to the train afterward.

*Walk fast, yes. Run, no.

He was down about the game but not upset or grumpy. We talked about it being bad but also remembered the cool things we’d seen. He read the program until he fell asleep on the train ride home and the following day took great pleasure in re-enacting Pillar’s catch for his grandparents and showing the video clip to anyone who’d watch. Even a bad game can have memorable moments and I’ve got a photo of Pillar that I need to make into a card for him after the season is over and I finish my custom cards.

Next time we go to a game it will be all of us together. Maybe it will be at Pac Bell Oracle. Maybe it’ll be at the Coliseum. Or perhaps Citizens Bank, Citi, or Yankee Stadium. Lots of options open to us now that his Giants fandom has been cemented and he’s had that proper first MLB game experience in the correct park.